Work in Progress: The Whispering Bandit/An Interrupted Betrothal

Progress report:

Last time looked at: 5/31/18

Last actual wordage added: 5/31/18

Pages added, 5/31/18: 2

Current page count: 17 or 16, depending.

Estimated final page count: 16 for “An Interrupted Betrothal,” don’t know for “The Whispering Bandit.”

Original Deadline: June 1.

Comments: So here’s what happened.

I looked at how “The Whispering Bandit” was going, and at the 9,000-word maximum for the anthology I was aiming at, and saw a pretty severe mismatch. Four thousand words in I hadn’t even gotten to the cat-and-mouse romance at the heart of the story — hadn’t even brought the male lead on stage, though he’d been mentioned. This was just not going to work. Oh, the story is still viable, but it apparently wants to be a novella, or possibly even a short novel, and I had a June 1 anthology deadline with a 9,000-word maximum.

So I re-thought the entire thing, and started over, compressing the plot, stripping it down to its core.

It was moved from the Bound Lands setting to a new, not very detailed one, allowing me to ignore pre-established geography and use magic that doesn’t fit the Bound Land rules. Lady Malzin became Riassa ter-Vallez. Errilsa became Lady Avinna. Two male characters were collapsed into one and brought on stage on page 1, instead of later. The ambush sequence was transformed, moved from a highway to an audience chamber and changed from an actual ambush to a staged confrontation, and it was made the new opening. The old opening scene was eliminated, its essential elements now either implied rather than explicit, or provided in flashback. Multiple subplots vanished. And since there were no longer any bandits in it, whispering or otherwise, I gave it the utterly generic working title “The Edge of the Blade.”

This simplified, compacted version actually worked just fine, arguably better than the original — Riassa doesn’t make some of Lady Malzin’s mistakes, for one thing; she has a much better endgame planned, though her plans go wrong and it doesn’t happen.

I was able to finish it by June 1, at about 4,200 words. I sent it off to the anthology last night, and the editor has acknowledged receipt. The present title (which may well change again before publication) is “An Interrupted Betrothal.”

And the thing is, it wound up so different that I can still finish “The Whispering Bandit” and pretend it’s an unrelated story. There are a few core elements that remain in both and may draw suspicion (spoiler, highlight if you want to know: a well-born female dresses up as a man to get her cousin out of an unwanted marriage) but pretty much everything else has changed.

But there’s no rush about finishing it; the deadline has been met.

Word-count for “The Whispering Bandit” is 4,327. Final word-count for “An Interrupted Betrothal” is 4,132.

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